Efficacy of colostrum replacer versus maternal colostrum on immunological status, health, and growth of preweaned dairy calves

A. Lago, M. Socha, A. Geiger, D. Cook, Noelia Silva Del Rio, C. Blanc, R. Quesnell, C. Leonardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Commercially available colostrum replacers (CR) are commonly used when maternal colostrum (MC) is unavailable, for managerial convenience, to ensure quality consistency at first feeding, or in disease control and eradication programs. The objective of this study was to determine the efficacy of feeding First Day Formula (Accelerated Genetics, Baraboo, WI) CR versus pooled MC on immunological status, growth, and health of preweaned dairy calves. A total of 1,220 Jersey and Jersey × Holstein calves born on a California Central Valley dairy farm were assigned after birth to receive either CR or MC following a systematic allocation procedure. Calves assigned to MC were tube fed 2.8 L of MC, and calves assigned to CR were tube fed a total of 500 g of CR (150 g of immunoglobulin G; IgG) mixed into 1.9 L of water at 1 h ± 5 min after the calf was born. A subset of calves was selected for passive transfer (n = 592) and growth (n = 268) analyses. Although both coliform count and total bacteria count were low for MC and CR fed to calves during the study, the predicted probability of calves receiving contaminated liquid feed (coliform count >10,000 cfu/mL) at first feeding was reduced for calves fed CR (1.5%) compared with calves fed MC (6.1%). The mean blood concentration of IgG was lower for calves fed CR than for calves fed MC (19.6 vs. 23.4 mg/mL). However, the apparent efficiency of absorption of IgG did not differ between treatments (34.4 and 35.9% for CR and MC, respectively). Total proteins were lower in calves fed CR compared with MC at 24 h (5.16 vs. 5.84 g/dL, respectively). Calves fed CR were 1.5 kg lighter at weaning and gained 0.03 kg less per day (0.30 vs. 0.33 kg/d, respectively) than calves fed MC before weaning. Height at weaning did not differ between the 2 treatment groups. Calves fed CR tended to have a higher predicted probability of not being treated for diarrhea than calves fed MC (0.142 vs. 0.110, respectively). However, when the disease was present, CR had a higher number of treatment days compared with MC (11.6 vs. 10.8 d, respectively). The hazard ratio of dying did not differ between MC and CR; however, CR calves had a numerically higher risk (hazard ratio = 1.347) of dying compared with calves that received MC. In conclusion, IgG absorption and serum concentration of calves were adequate when calves were fed either CR or MC. The CR-fed calves had a lower probability of receiving contaminated liquid feed and performed similar in terms of health compared with calves receiving high-quality MC, although they were slightly lighter at weaning. Therefore, the CR evaluated in this study is a valid alternative to high-quality (>50 mg of IgG/mL) MC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Calf
  • Colostrum
  • Colostrum replacer
  • Passive transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Efficacy of colostrum replacer versus maternal colostrum on immunological status, health, and growth of preweaned dairy calves'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this